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Trapped in Grain Bin

Steps to Take for Rescue When Trapped in a Grain Bin

Grain Bin dangers

Check out the quick tips below. For more in-depth information, see the full NDSU Extension publication"Caught in the Grain!"

If you come upon a grain engulfment, shut off all equipment around the bin site and turn off the electric power to the site.

  • Call 911 immediately and indicate that it is a possible grain bin engulfment so emergency rescue can bring the appropriate equipment for extraction. 
  • Do not attempt to enter the grain bin alone to try to save the individual.  You are putting yourself in harm’s way and may endanger the individual who is trapped even more. 
  • If an individual is completely engulfed in the grain, you may want to turn on the bin aeration system to help get air to the trapped person. However, if it is cold out, turning the fans on may result in the trapped person getting hypothermia. 
  • If an individual is completely engulfed, you may want to open the sides of the grain bin to start the grain flowing out to speed the recovery process.  You can achieve this by using a loader bucket, cutting torches or metal cutting saws to cut out U- or V- shaped holes equally spaced around the bin.  This will allow the grain to flow evenly out the sides and prevent the bin from collapsing on top of the trapped individual. I
  • f the individual is trapped in grain but not fully emerged, stay where you can visually see the person and continue communication to keep the individual alert and responsive. 
  • Do not go in by yourself to rescue the individual as you also may get trapped or you could cause the trapped individual or yourself to become completely submerged in the grain. 
  • Once help arrives and safety harnesses are in place and tied off, rescuers can begin to enter the grain bin to rescue the trapped individual.  The rescue team will need to build a wall around the trapped individual so they can start removing grain from around the trapped individual and the wall will keep the grain from flowing back on Rescue teams need to have someone outside the bin who has a visual of what is going on so if a problem occurs that individual can react and call for additional help if needed. 
  • Do not attempt to pull an individual from trapped grain as the force of the grain pushing down on the person can cause severe bodily damage, which could include spinal column damage. 
  • Once the individual has enough grain removed around him or her, secure a safety harness so the person won’t sink deeper into the grain. 
  • Once the trapped individual is free, he or she can be raised up and taken to safety for medical evaluation. 

Graphic by MidWest Plan Service, Iowa State University

Filed under: farm-safety-grain-bin
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